More than 78 million people have seen the Internet sensation “Kony 2012,” but while the video has become very popular in the Western world, many Ugandans are protesting the film.
The video went viral on March 5, 2012, and quickly become an international talking point. It focuses on the crimes of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa. The film highlights Kony’s abduction of children in Uganda, forcing them to become members of the LRA.
The lack of internet access in many parts of rural Uganda meant that many of the people who the film draws attention to had not actually seen it.
A charity in Uganda, the African Youth Initiative Network, arranged for a screening of the film for local people in Lira, Uganda. Thousands gathered to view the film.
Al Jazeera reported on Wednesday that the crowd seemed to be confused by the video at first, which focuses heavily on an American man, Jason Russell, one of the founders of Invisible Children, and his son, Gavin.
All the half-hour film went on, the crowd went from confused to angry. They called it inaccurate and offensive, saying that the campaign to “make Kony famous” as the film intends is actually celebrating Kony’s crimes and not focusing on helping Uganda and other countries that have been affected by the LRA.
“If people in those countries care about us, they will not wear tee shirts with pictures of Joseph Kony for any reason,” one Ugandan man, who had once been abducted by the LRA, told Al Jazeera. “That would celebrate our suffering.”
Another man told Al Jazeera that he thought the video was trying to mobilize people to give money to help fund Invisible Children, the much-criticized charity behind Kony 2012, without promoting actions that would directly affect the people of northern Uganda.
Chaos broke out at the screening as people began to yell and throw rocks at the screen. The audience fled to escape harm.
This is not the first negative reaction to the campaign. Some policy experts, media figures and African activist organizations have been calling the film an act of “slacktivism” that calls on people to do little more than buy a bracelet.
“The Kony documentary is basically a huge awareness campaign,” Forbes magazine said. “As many have pointed out, awareness and social media alone will do very little to stop the atrocities in Africa.”
Other activists argue that the film puts too much emphasis on America.
“This video seems to say that the power lies in America, and it does not lie with my government, it does not lie with local initiatives on the ground,” Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan journalist, told ABC News.
Kagumire argues that this view is just hurting Africa.
“It is furthering that narrative about Africans: totally unable to help themselves and needing outside help all the time,” she said.